Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pumpkin Thief - Meep Meep!

Cinderella Pumpkin 2018
Cinderella pumpkins were nurtured from seeds sown during Memorial Day weekend 2018.  Young plants thrived well enough to enable me to share a few with some work associates for their young children to enjoy the process of growing their own pumpkins for Halloween.  The balance of the plants went into the Pumpkin Patch - Bed #1.  As the summer heat increased in intensity, sun umbrellas had to be installed to relieve the drooping leaves and encourage pollinators to enjoy the shade. 

Sunflowers, zinnias, and morning glories for pollinators, people, and birds to enjoy.

Sunflowers, zinnias, and morning glories were planted to encourage those pollinators to stick around awhile.  Sunflower seeds are now drying for the birds to enjoy.  Zinnia seeds have already started to germinate for one last blast before frost.  Morning glory seeds are sprouting too but most will just be wildly sprouting in the spring.

Immature Cinderella Pumpkin
The pumpkin plants were blooming and producing many fruit throughout the summer.  It was bound to be a bumper crop this year.  But wait.  Soon after fruit were about golf ball size, they disappeared.  Did they wither from the heat?  No.  Did insects ravage them?  No.  How about some pest like a possum, raccoon, or rat?  No evidence.  The fruit simply disappeared without a trace.  All that work all summer long only brought 4 pumpkins to maturity.  FOUR?!  Unacceptable.  My work associates had experienced the same thing.  This mysterious thief must be found.  Time passed without a clue.  The vines were withering.  It was time to harvest and get that bed ready for winter veggies.

Farmer MacGregor did the heavy work on 3 of the 4 beds then I smoothed and planted.  It was still hot; so I was under the shade of the patio admiring all our hard work when a bird shwooshed in to the shade tree, dropped down to the lawn then jumped over the plum tree and into the former pumpkin patch.  It looked around quickly sizing up the change of the place then jumped up on the fence and moved on to the neighbors' yard looking for groceries.  The bird?  It was a roadrunner!  THIEF!

Roadrunners are not new to Bakersfield.  In fact, they are the mascot for the local university.  They ARE rare in suburban neighborhoods - I thought.

With this discovery, I went to the internet to learn more.  These guys eat anything.  Anything.  The internet also provided inspiration for a roadrunner feeding station that might help eradicate this problem in the future.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tomatoes 2018

Tomato Bed 2018
Getting ready for summertime usually starts with getting the tomatoes situated.  In the past, I have been too ambitious or not ambitious at all.  This year, I hope to land squarely in the middle.  With a mix of heirloom and hybrids (and not too many of either) there has to be a balance.  Farmer MacGregor selected most of the varieties and I think he did a great job.

The heirlooms are planted on the western most edge of the bed (circled in red) to form a shade for other tomatoes as the blazing hot Hades sun moves from East to West.  These plants will be strung as they grow.  The green posts form the support.  Twine will be installed as the heirlooms grow and need support.  Fingers crossed for a nice curtain of tomatoes.  There are 1 of each:  German Johnson, Kellogg's Breakfast, Old German, and Pruden's Purple.  (Hmmm.  Planted in alphabetical order - top to bottom.  That sounds like me.)

The hybrids have cages for support.  They shouldn't get very tall; but hopefully they will get heavy.  There are 2 Better Boys, 1 Sweet 100 (cherry), and 1 Sun Gold (cherry).

All the plants have been stripped of their lower branches and leaves and planted deep to encourage a strong root system.  Each was provided a good dose of Garden & Bloom Harvest Supreme soil amendment and some organic tomato food.  Fortunately, the recent rains made the soil soft and easy to work with. Overcast skies also helped all the plants with a gentle introduction into the garden.

There are already blossoms that should thrive with the coming heat.  Here's to low weeds and high tomato production this summer.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lilac Success

Lilac (Allen)
Lilac (Helen)

 Both varieties of lilacs are blooming.  Helen hasn't bloomed in years.  She was relocated in the fall (2017).  Maybe that did the trick.  Allen has always been a steady and reliable bloomer.  Neither are ever pruned or fertilized much.  Both are in the same size pot and are located close to each other.  Their growing conditions are the same.  Why is Helen so shy to bloom?

The Old Farmer's Almanac offers some good points for growing lilacs successfully.  Maybe I should consider starting some cuttings of Helen and see if I have success.  It is impossible to have too many lilacs.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wisteria Rain

Blue Wisteria petals falling with the rain.
The recent bounty of wonderful rain was terrific.  The garden is washed.  The soil is soft.  While sitting on the patio and enjoying watching the rain come down, I noticed the plump wisteria petals fall with the rain.  There's still plenty hanging from the pergola above.  The bumblebees get busy between rain storms making the area sound like a botanical helipad.  The hummingbird feeder is a hugely popular stop for migrating nectar suckers.  In the meantime, the perfumed confetti continues to fall like a springtime ticker tape parade.  It's pretty great to enjoy this.  Summertime and swamp pants will be here before long; but until then the garden is very sweet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Getting Back Into Blogging

Santa Rosa Plum Bud Break February 18, 2018

I've been away from blogging for sometime.  The process of blogging takes focus and purpose.  It just isn't as immediate as all the social media available.  However, as a garden journal it is invaluable.  Using the blog as a reference to refresh my mind on what worked, what didn't work, where things were planted, etc., is just so helpful.  I was reminded of this when I noticed the buds breaking recently on the Santa Rosa plum. I really thought the plum bud break was super late this year; but when I look at my blog post regarding the matter, February 18, 2018 is right in the ballpark.  In fact, it's pretty close to average. 

Since February 18, I'm pleased to report that the summer of 2018 looks like there might be a bounty of plums.  So, all is well with the plum world.